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Exciting Challenge

Read the Bible 90 day

SUMMER!  Just ahead…  if you are like me, at the end of my spring time study focus I begin to think about what I am going to read this summer.  Usually, I begin my list with an adventurous Christian fiction novel, I tend to lean towards a historical setting, one full of romance, travel and faith.  And of course, strong characters that cause me to close my eyes and picture myself right where they are or shake my head in complete questionable wonder.  Summer!

I am changing the genre this year, I am going for a true story, yet holds all the summer-readingsame elements that grip my attention.  My goal is to read the entire Bible in 90 days.  Yes, that’s right in three months.  It is an average of 16 chapters a day.  Those who know me best, KNOW I can not do THAT in my normal way.  I am a ‘rabbit trail’ reader.  I will begin reading a verse or portion of scripture and before I know it have multiple windows open on my laptop, stacks of books chaotically laying at my feet and Notepad full of notes to organize later.  Over the course of the next few weeks beginning June 1st, I will set aside my study resources, my goal is to gain a glimpse of the entire story  from Genesis to Revelations, asking the Holy Spirit to make all the connections of characters and see God’s hand move with a gentle wave over HIS story.  I will however have a notebook with me, instead of running off immersing myself in deep research, I will quickly jot down the things He illuminates for me to study … later.

How about it?  YOU want to join me?  I will be using GateWays online 90 day plan  [ https://www.biblegateway.com/reading-plans/bible-in-90-summer_readinghdays/today?version=NIV ]  It offers the option to choose the translation you want, I would encourage a translation that of course is easy to read (New Living Translation, The Message or New International Version) due to the amount of reading, if you are like me NOT a great ‘reader’, scan and skim… always PRAYING before you read, that God opens your eyes, mind and heart to ‘see’ what He wants you to see.

As the saying goes, “There’s an APP for that!”   If you prefer to have this accessible on your SmartPhone, ‘YouVersion’ offers the 90 day phone App as well.

Most importantly, this goal is to gain an overview of God – His story, much like a whirlwind vacation trip, taking pictures along the way.  PLEASE do not grow discouraged if you miss a day, or get behind, this is not a ‘competition’ with others and or yourself.

I would love to hear from you, if you feel this would fit your summer reading or sense God whispering in your ear, “Do this…”

Be blessed!

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)

 

Crossing the Line (Again)

make the line decision

It has been said throughout history, “Now you have really crossed the line.”  Many, if not most often was said to those who made stupid (STUPID) decisions.  Crossing the ‘line,’ declares once on the other side chaos is the potential reality. The line.  You know, the place where good and bad stand facing each other.  Ever find yourself there?  Standing either on the line, straddling it or now … just inches beyond.  Regret is the instant response.  Crossing the line.

Aaron of the Old Testament was a line crosser.  Exodus 32.  Painting the scene: Moses was up on the Mount with God, God was etching the Law on the Tablets.  While this was happening, chaos below.  The people grew restless (‘restless’ sermon in itself, for another time)  Aaron was left in charge.  Leadership was not new to him, being Moses’ brother, he was at his side confronting Pharaoh in Egypt, he was there when Manna and Quail was provided to the people, he along with Hur held up Moses’ arms in the battle against the Amalekites.  Now.  Now the folks come to AARON  frustrated and lost, “Do something… make us gods to follow…”  The line.  Aaron instructs them to take off all their jewelry, handing it to him, the narratives says he used a tool and HE shaped the image into a calf. (sigh) Placing the idol in front of an altar and the people, chaos began. He truly crossed the line.

God sent Moses back down to the people, out of disgust, Moses carrying the Tablets, threw them, breaking them to pieces.  Moses confronts all.  Aaron still on the ‘other side’ of the line, responds  “Do not be angry, you know how prone these people are to evil. They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.  So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’  Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”   Hm … interesting.  He actually went with the ‘oh, looky there, a calf…’ explanation.   Other side, lying.

As the people ran wild, Moses stood at the entrance to the camp, declaring “those who are for the LORD, come…”  The line drawn.  A new line for Aaron. Immediately ALL the Levites rallied to Moses.  You see, here is whereline1 we pause, Aaron is a Levite.  Aaron crossed the line AGAIN.  He crossed back. The folks were instructed to grab a sword, three thousand died that day.  Not much more was said about Aaron in this chapter, however it is said the Moses interceded for the people AND Aaron (Deut. 9)

What AMAZES me, Aaron crossed the line and made that HUGE bad decision …yet and yet, God. Forgiveness runs deep, so very deep.  God chose him to be a priest.  Going on to stand before the people, representing the holiness of God.   “Then Aaron lifted his hands toward the people and blessed them. And having sacrificed the sin offering, the burnt offering and the fellowship offering, he stepped down. Moses and Aaron then went into the Tent of Meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. Fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown.” – Leviticus 9:22-24  Notice the fire of God consumed the offerings, and NOT Aaron, wonder if there was just a little ‘ducking’ on Aaron’s part.  (kidding)

Some would say, “but Aaron …”  Flipping our pages ahead to Numbers 16-17,  Korah, Dathan and Abiram spark a ‘coup’ challenging Aaron’s priesthood, God opened up the ground and swallowed them up – THEN there was a plague on those who sympathized with the rebellion, Aaron was told to go and stand between the living and the dead, offering incense, the plague stopped.  Following this, God told Moses to take a rod from each tribal leader (Aaron included) write their names on their rod, place the rods in the Tent of Meeting, the one that buds, HE is the one chosen for priesthood.  The next morning, guess which rod had budded?  Yup, Aaron’s representing the tribe of Levi, God saw fit to cause it not only to bud, but it had blossoms and actual almonds on it!

Crossing the LineHow many of us have been where Aaron was, made some really STUPID decisions, crossed the wrong line, found our lives in chaos.  God in His most gracious love, offers ‘cross the line again’ opportunities.  His forgiveness running deep.  Just like Aaron, the opportunity was there, he immediately stepped forward, God used him mightily.  Or perhaps you stand now rubbing your toe against the line, wondering… just wondering.  Stop.

Life is not meant to be a hopscotch game, stepping and hopping from one line to the other, yet when the line is crossed, CROSS BACK.

I love Kings David’s Psalm 133.  “How good and pleasant it is when brothers 54686_hopscothlive together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.”  Beautiful.

Crossing the line, AGAIN.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)

 

Trim Your Wick

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The CANDLE … warm glow, dancing of the flame, the slow drip of the fragrant wax.  Soothing isn’t it?  One could sit for hours in its shadow, just admiring the effect it has on us.

While leading bible study, we were immersed in the Tabernacle of Moses, an amazing study.  As the women entered the room, they are greeted with a white linen covered table; with two tapered candles burning in long stem crystal holders.  The atmosphere is warm and elegant, inviting.  There is something about … a flickering flame.

The Lord revealed Himself many times in the flame, the bush with Moses, where he was commissioned, and Yahweh gives us His name, “I AM THAT I AM” (Ex. 3), and the pillar of fire at night to the Israelites, extending His guidance (Ex. 13).  Solomon dedicating the Temple, fire came down from heaven as God’s glory filled it (2 Chron. 7). One can not talk fire, forgetting to mention the show down on Mt. Carmel, Elijah, and his God against the prophets of Baal (I Kings 18).  Then the tongues of fire on the heads of those gathered at Pentecost (Acts 2)word and light

Oh, we may not be calling God down from heaven these days to consume our sacrifice to prove a point, but the use of the flame on a smaller note, we can understand.  The theme of the candle or lamp in the bible is strong.  In Psalm 18:28 David writes “For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness”.   Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path”.   It is God that burns, His presence, His word that lights our way; it is in our very next step we desire Him to be present.  Light our way O God!

With the joy and privilege of the candle comes responsibility, tending.  The priests DAILY tended to the lamp in the Tabernacle.  Along with the sacrifice, the water, the light, these needed daily attention.  When God gave strict instruction of the articles for the Tabernacle, He included the ‘wick trimmers’.  Exodus 25:38, the wick trimmers were made of pure gold.

As I researched this, I was amazed to find the need that as we trim the wick short; we ‘cut off yesterday’s fire.’  It was described that the wick begins to have a small build up, causing the flame not to burn pure and too fast.  This is the black soot that flows from the flame; it is drowning in a large pool of melted wax.   This soot seems to fall and attach itself to those things closest to the candle.  Hm… think on that.  Drowning in melted wax, black icky stuff attached.  We trim for a fresh, even, pure, lasting flame!  Fresh Fire!  Does that stir something in you?

We recently moved into a new house with a very modern gas stove, cooking on it is a learning process for me having never cooked on one, with fear of BLOWING the house up, yet it interests me that when I turn the flame off how immediately the pan or tea kettle begins to cool down.  So it is with our spiritual life, remove the flame of God and we too have an immediate ‘cool down.’

The Lord spoke to me about the need to come DAILY, seeking His presence, His word, that FRESH  FIRE, depending not on yesterday’s experience!  As I trim my wick and prepare for a fresh word from God, His presence comes.  As He did with Moses, He will reveal Himself to me, commissioning me for the day.  As the Israelites, He will guide me.  As His temple, He will fill me.  Just like Elijah, He will do great things in my midst. I will seek the constant flame, NOT allowing a cool down.

How is our flame burning?  Is it yesterdays fire, has it cooled down or gone out completely?  Seek as David did,.. ‘light my candle O God!

Fresh Fire… trim your wick, for a pure, even, lasting flame, Go God!  (wouldn’t THAT look great on the Yankee candle label)

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

 

Journey of the Lamb

 

Stained Glass lamb

Recently celebrating Resurrection Sunday, I was again reminded of the journey of … the Lamb. From Genesis to Revelation the Lamb of God.

Genesis 22, God declares to Abraham to take his son Isaac, his only son to the mountain and offer him as a sacrifice. An interesting ‘geeky’ point, verse two, God tells Abraham “Take now your son…”  Often we miss SO much in the translation, in the Hebrew, the word ‘now’ is ‘na’.  See how it reads in Hebrew, “Abraham and he is saying behold me, take you please! son of you, only one of you whom you love Issac…”  (emphasis mine)  The word translated ‘now’, literally is ‘beseech, please.’  Reading that again, you can almost hear the heart of God in this request.  A Fathers heart.  As Abe and son begin their hike up the mountain, father placing the wood on the shoulders of the son, Isaac says “The fire and wood are here.” Then asks, “but where is the lamb …?”

As the story progresses, Isaac willingly climbs up on the altar.  Abraham obeys to the fullest, God knowing His heart, stops him, and provides a ram for the sacrifice. Noting, here in this chapter, is the first time love, (v 2) worship (v 5) and obey (v 18) are used.  Whenever God introduces something new, we are to take notice!  Love. Worship.  Obey.   The lamb. Hearing God, following His commands, sacrificing until it hurts. The Lamb … provided.

Exodus 12, in short: God prepares the Israelites to leave the captivity of Egypt. Instructions were given as the Angel of death would soon be unleashed, “… take the lamb…” slay and place the blood on the doorpost of the home. Taking the lamb into their home, the blood now over them, death avoided. Freedom from captivity. The Lamb … protected.

John 1, John the Baptist, known as an eccentric evangelist, (to say the least, can you say “YUM… bugs!”) sees Jesus approaching, he openly declares “Look, behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” John purposely points to Jesus, the shift of attention. The Lamb … proclaimed.

Revelation 5, the angelic choir ‘gettin their worship on’, sings before the throne “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise.” THAT verse!  Read it again as the Holy Spirit breathes on you with His Majesty!   (Let’s all stand to our feet! Or face down!)  The Lamb … praised. 

We too, hold a progression of the Lamb. Perhaps we are wondering, where is He, agony of heart, NEEDING provision. Have we taken Him, the offering of protection and deliverance from our captivity. Are we beholding Him,  openly declaring Him before others, re-shifting the focus from us to Him. Does our heart and lifestyle harmonize with heaven ‘worthy is the Lamb’ joining the imagesTMNS0VHScelebration.

Jesus, from the foreshadowing in the Old Testament,  the wood on His shoulders, willingly climbing on the altar, His blood, protecting and delivering, to US proclaiming … Him, to the celebration at the foot of the throne … the Lamb of God.

Where is the lamb?” The Lamb, provided.

Take the lamb” The Lamb, protected.

Behold the Lamb” The Lamb, proclaimed.

Worthy is the Lamb” The Lamb, praised.

This week, may we contemplate where WE are in our own personal journey of the Lamb.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” ~ Heb. 10:24)

Good Friday, a Red Letter Day

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HAPPY GOOD FRIDAY!!!   Have you ever sat and read through the New Testament and  read ONLY the words in red? Jesus’ words.  For a completely new perspective, I challenge us to do just that. I know context  is everything, but step out of the exegesis box (interpreting the scriptures)  for a brief moment, to get an amazing snap shot of Jesus. His strength,  authority, His love, and compassion.

Without all the narrative, those  red words pack a powerful punch, knowing that Jesus says them. There  are dramatic statements, strong commands, tender words. “Let it be so…” (Matt. 3:15) “It is written…” (Matt.4:4) Get up…” (Matt. 9:6) “Take courage it is I…” (Matt 14:27) “Quiet, Be still…” (Mark 4:39) “Come  forth …” (Jn. 11:43) “Don’t be afraid just believe…” (Mark 5:36)  “What do you want Me to do for  you…” (Mark 10:51) Who do you say I am…” (Lk. 9:20) “Then  neither do I condemn you…” (Jn. 8:11) “I am redletter-dayHe…” (Jn. 18:6).

These are just a few, but there  is one more that to me stands out among the rest. Here I do want to set  the context. Jesus is agonizingly set between two thieves. His feet and hands are nailed to a wooden cross. Hours earlier, He knelt in a garden declaring for  all humanity “Abba Father … everything is  possible for You. Take this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You  will.”

There at the foot of the  cross, many mocked, some cried and I am confident there were those in complete silence. After the vinegar  was given to Jesus, He said “It is  FINISHED…” ( Jn. 19:30 ~ emphasis mine) He then bowed His  head and gave up His spirit.

It is finished. The word in the Greek alone paints the most vibrant color filled picture: “To complete  something not merely to end it, but to bring it to perfection or its destined  goal”* As the pages turn from Genesis to this very moment, God’s story is fulfilled. Does it end here? No!  But the bridge back to the Father is perfected.  Jesus rises from the dead triumphantly (Happy Easter) engages and commissions  the disciples, returns to heaven to reign forever. Now we the church, as inspired by the Holy Spirit carry on  with the red letter commands, statements and tender words.

Move over Easter Bunny, here comes the risen King!  “It is finished.” Now let’s live like it really IS!  Relationship offered, relationship restored.  May we live each day as a red  letter day!

Blessed Easter to you and yours,

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love  and good deeds.” ~ Heb. 10:24)

*  ‘Teleo’ – Quote from the Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New  Testament.

Inspired Fountain Website: https://inspiredfountainpen.wordpress.com/

Sneak Peek: ‘A Harnessed Heart vs A Hardened Heart’

Oxen pulling

Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Jesus (Matt. 11:28-30)

VERY INTERESTING, (sorry to yell) in studying the use of the ‘yoke’, I came upon a training guide for those using ‘oxen power.’

Training Oxen Guide
A. >>Base for Training: Establish leadership quickly and firmly.
B. >> Rules of Training
1. Train regularly
2. Maintain control
3. Be firm. Insist on obedience
4. Be patient and understanding
5. Be consistent in everything you ask
C. >> Train with the yoke (or harness)
1. Teach ‘Turn right, Turn left.’
2. Teach Step In (step toward), and Step Out (step away)
3. Begin to pull loads
4. Work on giving animals a variety of tasks in a variety of environments.

OH MY! Read the list again, now from ‘God guiding and us following’ perspective. Does this not speak LOUDLY, as we come voluntarily, accept the yoke of Jesus. “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” – God speaking, Isaiah 30:21.   David shares of his God, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” – Psalm 32:8

Interesting.

I so appreciate Eugene Peterson’s translation of Jesus’ words regarding the yoke, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matt. 11:28-30 MSG)

“Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.”

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds”  – Heb. 10:24) 

[Excerpt from Inspired Fountain Devotional Teaching, ‘A Harnessed Heart vs A Hardened Heart’ … Coming soon]

Tangled Hangers

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Patience.  I want it NOW, or maybe in the next few breaths, before my face turns a shade of red that would cause a paramedic to shudder upon approach.  My husband and I, together have begun to work through  the devotional book, “Praying the Attributes of God”, by Ann Spangler, and I mean ‘WORK’ through it.  One does not merely ‘read’ when you open your heart and mind to transformation.  We just finished the week-long journey of patience, looking at God’s patience with us.  OH MY GOODNESS!  “The Lord, the Lord!  The God of compassion and mercy!  I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.”  – God, Exodus 34:6

In short, God does not grow frustrated with us like we do with others, things circumstances or … ourselves.  Taking all the geeky (good stuff) and putting it in a nutshell, patience can be translated ‘long-souled’ indicating ‘to be long of feeling, delay one’s anger.’  (YES GOD!  Be long-souled with ME!)  Quoting, Ann, “God is calling us to be long or large in spirit, willing to exercise faith WHILE we wait for Him to act.”  (emphasis mine)  Act God!

I have studied patience extensively, but implementing it consistently is a whole other realm, like that of a Sci Fi novel.  It takes twists and turns, facing new beasts demanding strong use of weaponry, (can you ‘see’ it?)   In the devotional, at the end of the focus on patience, we were asked a few questions, one of which was: “On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, how would YOU rate your ability to be patient?  What would you do to improve your score?”  THIS, invoked great discussion for Mark and I, (love that man!) The first thing that came to mind for me was, ‘Tangled Hangers’, NOTHING makes me more frustrated then tangled hangers, at times I am sure I may lose my salvation over the anger that quickly rises within me, when I reach for one, ONE thing,  they tangle and others come tumbling out and fall to the floor.  ALAS, my score ‘might’ hit a 1 1/2 at that point.  This imagery has been with me this pass week or so, asking how can I ‘get out of the frustrated arena, easily reach and not get tangled?’  Isn’t it true of our lives at times, we are SO busy, our mind so full, that when we ‘reach’ for one thing, the thing needed or wanted, it all comes imagesHA97KYCZtumbling down.  To answer the question, “How can I increase my score?”  CLEAN OUT THE CLOSET!  (I know, DUH!)  The same is with our lives, clean out, get rid of, grow pass all the ‘stuff’, so when we (or God) reaches for something, it is ‘well with our soul.’   We don’t fall to pieces, it is easier, accessible and we get to keep our salvation (just kidding).

Thank you God for being so very patient with us, willing to allow us to grow and learn.  Move – ACT in and through us, we invite YOUR attribute, we welcome YOU, may Your Spirit help us, with … us.  May we this week, sense Your whisper as we reach, granting us the strength and wisdom to clean out the ‘stuff’, make life easier and not so cluttered, reducing our frustration.  In Your most powerful and loving name, Jesus. Amen”

Tangled hangers – no problem.  God.

In Him, DeDe  (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)

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